Special Report

America's Best and Worst States for Pets

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16. Virginia
> Maximum penalty for aggravated cruelty: 5 years imprisonment and/or 1 year imprisonment and $2,500 fine (for subsequent offenses)
> Animals may be included in domestic violence protective orders: No
> Mandatory reporting by veterinarian: Yes
> Households owning pets: 53.4% (11th lowest)

The Virginia-based nonprofit Island Dog Rescue brought in dogs from Puerto Rico in January, rescuing the animals from the devastation on that island following earthquakes there.

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17. New Jersey
> Maximum penalty for aggravated cruelty: 5 years imprisonment and/or $15,000 fine
> Animals may be included in domestic violence protective orders: Yes
> Mandatory reporting by veterinarian: No
> Households owning pets: 50.7% (3rd lowest)

It costs an estimated $2,398 a month to own a pet in New Jersey, the highest of any state.

18. West Virginia
> Maximum penalty for aggravated cruelty: 5 years jail and $5,000 fine
> Animals may be included in domestic violence protective orders: Yes
> Mandatory reporting by veterinarian: Yes
> Households owning pets: 62.1% (8th highest)

West Virginia State Sen. Ryan Weld in late January proposed a resolution that would make shelter dogs the official state dog. The resolution was approved by the state Senate and still needs the backing of the House of Delegates to be official.

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19. Nevada
> Maximum penalty for aggravated cruelty: 5 years prison and $10,000 fine, plus restitution (for subsequent offenses)
> Animals may be included in domestic violence protective orders: No
> Mandatory reporting by veterinarian: No
> Households owning pets: 55.6% (20th lowest)

Nevada enacted a law in 2019 that requires state-funded housing units to be pet friendly. The state enforces felony penalties for pet cruelty, neglect, fighting, abandonment, and sexual assault.

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20. Vermont
> Maximum penalty for aggravated cruelty: 5 years imprisonment and/or $5,000 fine
> Animals may be included in domestic violence protective orders: Yes
> Mandatory reporting by veterinarian: No
> Households owning pets: 70.8% (the highest)

Vermont has the highest percentage of households owning pets in the United States at 70.8%.